It seems the rumours were true: the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Portable digital storefronts will be closing down for good this summer. And once they’re gone, you won’t be able to access any of the games on those stores via legitimate means.
As we’ve already seen on a number of occasions previously, the digital age brings with it great convenience — but also brings with it its own problems. The most notable of these problems is exactly what we’re seeing here: when games are only available as a downloadable title on a single, proprietary storefront on a single platform, they are lost to prospective new players the moment that single, proprietary storefront goes poof.
This means that if you want to play any of those games at some point in the future — even if it’s not necessarily right now — you’d better download them before that single, proprietary storefront goes poof. After that? Well, there are certain solutions to the long-term preservation issue, but that side of things is a little beyond the scope of what we’re talking about here for various reasons!
And so we come to a selection of five download-only PlayStation 3 exclusives that are at immediate risk of being lost to time. Assuming there is any truth to the reports that the store is closing, now’s the time to pick these up!
Interestingly, this game did actually get a limited physical release of sorts in the hard-to-find “Best of PlayStation Network Vol. 1” collection — which also included Sound Shapes, Fat Princess and When Vikings Attack — but copies of that will hit you for at least fifty quid these days, and more likely cost you a three-figure sum.
Tokyo Jungle is one of Sony Japan Studio’s finest pieces of work on the PlayStation 3. It casts you as the role of an animal in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo and tasks you with survival, primarily through keeping yourself fed. Depending on the animal you choose to play as — and there’s a wide variety to unlock over the course of the game, plus some DLC to extend the choice even further — you’ll either have to hunt other animals for meat or carefully eat the plant life of the area while staying clear of predators.
The game is provided with a sense of structure through its “Challenge” system, whereby at various intervals throughout the game you’re tasked with accomplishing various goals such as reaching a particular destination, breeding with a mate (which allows you to pass on some of your stats to a new generation) or successfully performing stealthy “clean kills” on your foes. There are also a variety of story scenarios and pieces of archive material to uncover as you progress, allowing you to discover the truth behind the apocalypse.
Tokyo Jungle is one of the PS3’s best games, and it’s criminal it never got a proper standalone physical release — or indeed a port to more modern Sony platforms.
Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest
This blend of strategy RPG and visual novel was originally an adults-only title — and indeed you can still get both that version and its follow-up from prolific eroge localisers JAST USA. But it also got a solid port to PlayStation 3, so for those who were interested in playing the game but either aren’t interested in the explicit scenes or are not in a position where they can enjoy them without interference, this is an excellent option.
Of note about this PlayStation 3 version is that it was translated by Finnish localisation outfit Fruitbat Factory, who have put out some consistently good quality titles over the years — including a number of more obscure games that would never have otherwise seen a release in English.
For the unfamiliar, Eiyuu Senki is an isekai fantasy where your playable protagonist is whisked away from the real world into a parallel dimension where numerous historical figures are actually cute girls. Said cute girl historical figures are battling it out for world domination, so it’s up to you to help them out and enjoy a bit of fanservicey fun along the way. If this all sounds a bit Fate-like, note that Eiyuu Senki is rather more light-hearted and colourful than Fate, which is very dark and bleak in its original visual novel incarnation.
Gameplay-wise, this is visual novel first, strategy game second, so expect to be doing a lot of reading along the way. But the strategic gameplay is solid, if relatively straightforward — don’t go into this expecting Sengoku Rance — and the harem-building aspect provides plenty of incentive to continue through the narrative.
Battle Princess of Arcadias
Nippon Ichi Software has been around for a long time at this point, and while their Disgaea series has provided us some of the very best tactical RPG action of all time over the years, that’s not all they’ve made. In fact, the company has put out a wide variety of largely overlooked and underappreciated games, many of which are highly creative and really interesting to play.
Battle Princess of Arcadias is a great example for the PlayStation 3. In this game, you play the spunky redhead princess Plume, who has taken it upon herself to be her kingdom’s “Battle Princess”, leading her troops into battle whenever required. What then follows is a series of combat scenarios, ranging from relatively straightforward side-scrolling beat ’em up stages to more strategic “skirmish” and “siege” battles where you have to manage an army as well as your own wellbeing.
The game has a beautiful fairy tale picture book art style, a witty and genuinely amusing script, plus some highly unusual twists on the usual hack-and-slash formula. There are also a variety of playable characters to fiddle around with and customise, each of whom handle quite differently from one another. And it’s worth playing with all of them, since each one acts as a “leader” for a type of troops in your army, so for a balanced brigade you’ll need to spend some time levelling them all up.
This is a delightful game that has had next to no attention over the years due to its nature as a download-only game. It’d be great to see a rerelease on more modern platforms at some point — but for now, the only way you can play this is on your PlayStation 3.
Another Nippon Ichi title, this time a top-down hack-and-slash action RPG that features the company’s trademark in-depth character progression and customisation. In fact, after a certain point in this game, you can even create your own characters by importing your own sprite sheets — an option which a few PlayStation 3 games (including the first two Hyperdimension Neptunia games) explored back in the day, but which fell out of favour quite quickly.
In Legasista, you take on the role of explorer Alto, who is attempting to rescue his sister from being trapped inside a crystal. He arrives at the mysterious “Ivy Tower”, where he is confronted by technology from a lost age, including a sleepy android called Ms. Dungeon and a forgetful ultimate humanoid weapon with a taste for floppy disks who may or may not be able to help him save his sister, but who also might kill him in exchange for doing him a favour.
Legasista blends action RPG combat with the feel of the Mystery Dungeon games — later in the game you even have the option to explore randomly generated dungeons. There’s a strong focus on positioning and timing in combat, as you deal more damage to enemies from the sides and back, and some interesting, unconventional mechanics with regard to how taking damage in combat works.
With the emphasis on character creation, customisation and progression, this is a PlayStation 3 game that could keep you busy for a very long time indeed. If you enjoyed the Cladun games, this is definitely worth a look, as it was developed by the same internal branch of Nippon Ichi, and is in many ways a spiritual precursor to that series.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
You can get this game on Xbox 360 too, but the PlayStation 3 version was released later with one very cool additional feature: local co-op! Yes, while the Xbox 360 version could only be played with other people online, on the PlayStation 3 you can actually have multiple people playing together on a single console, which can make for some enjoyably chaotic fun times as you all try your best to steal the treasure.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair was the last true 2D pixel-art Castlevania, but follows a somewhat different mould to its open-structure predecessors. Instead, this is a strongly level-based affair, where you and up to five friends take on self-contained levels based on classic moments from the 2D series and attempt to take down some iconic bosses. Along the way, you’ll gather loot and progress your characters in various ways, ultimately buffing yourself up enough to be able to take on tougher challenges.
There are a variety of playable characters drawn from across the Castlevania series, with more available as DLC — you’ll want to grab these from the PlayStation 3 store alongside the game. There’s also a series of additional levels available as DLC, including a couple of retro-style ones based on the original Castlevania and the Japan-exclusive Famicom title Getsu Fuma-den. Each character plays radically differently from the others and has mechanics authentic to their original appearance, and each level has its own unique mechanical and structural considerations.
Don’t go into this expecting a sprawling, open-structure platformer with a strong emphasis on exploration. Go into this expecting something more akin to a side-scrolling MMO, where you repeatedly take on the same self-contained, relatively short-form challenges in order to gradually gain in power so that you can take on tougher and tougher foes. It’s a slow burn for sure, but a highly addictive one once you get invested — particularly if you bring a friend or two along for the ride. And the soundtrack is, as you might expect from a 2D Castlevania, absolutely killer.
What are your favourite PlayStation 3 titles that are now at risk? Let us know in the comments or via the usual social channels!
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